Background: Sugar-Sweetened Beverages (SSBs) are currently the single largest source of calories in the American diet. Community education is necessary to reduce demand for SSBs, promoting consumption of more healthful alternatives and countering the influence of beverage industry marketing practices. However, traditional mass media campaigns can be cost prohibitive for many organizations and do not offer the same experience as locally driven in-person interaction. Digital strategies can be used to coordinate in-person health communication statewide that is measurable, impactful, and locally driven.
Program background: Launched in 2013, Rev Your Bev Day is a statewide day of action occurring each May and funded by the Virginia Foundation for Healthy Youth in order to educate Virginians about the health effects of sugar-sweetened beverages.
Evaluation Methods and Results:
Virginians sign up to host an event in their own community via a user-friendly online registration process. Past participants have included schools, dentist offices, workplaces, community organizations, and hospitals. A campaign staff member contacts the event organizers to confirm their event details, learn more about their event, and offer advice about hosting a successful event. Confirmed events appear on a statewide Rev Your Bev Day map, allowing Virginians to easily find an event in their own community.
Rev Your Bev Day event hosts receive an “Event-In-A-Box” toolkit. In addition to event materials, each toolkit includes a data collection tool that allows for measuring and evaluating event participation, such as surveys or quizzes. In 2013, event organizers received a survey gauging knowledge and consumption of SSBs. This facilitated a statewide data collection project. In 2014, the toolkit contained an educational quiz that also evaluated the impact of Rev Your Bev Day 2014.
In Year 1, 175 events took place across the state of Virginia on Rev Your Bev Day. These events generated 8,950 surveys, finding that 33% of participants reported drinking at least one SSB per day.
245 Rev Your Bev Day events took place in Year 2, generating 6,431 educational quizzes reporting that 86% of participants said they learned something new about sugary drinks while 71% said they would drink fewer SSBs as a result of what they had learned Since 2013, Rev Your Bev Day has generated over 15,000 in-person interactions. The paid digital strategy for the campaign has reached over 62,000 users since April 2014 and has driven 2,130 actions for the campaign.
Conclusions: A digitally organized statewide day of action can effectively reach thousands of individuals with educational messaging and generate a lasting impact. As illustrated by the surveys collected, local events are reaching the desired target population (SSB-consumers). Efforts can be measured and evaluated by requiring event hosts to collect indicators of participation during their event.
Implications for research and/or practice: Future health communication efforts should consider utilizing members of the community to disseminate messaging in a coordinated, local, and measurable manner. Such efforts should include a data collection component to make it possible to measure the participation, reach, and impact of such efforts.